Journal Article — Private Sociologies and Burawoy’s Sociology Types: Reflections on Newtonian and Quantal Sociological Imaginations — by Mohammad H. Tamdgidi




Reflecting on Michael Burawoy’s classification of sociology into professional, critical, policy, and public types, and the adoption of the latter as the theme of the ASA’s 99th Annual Meeting, in this paper I argue that the drive toward increasingly global and world-historical public sociologies may prove hazardous in the absence of a parallel emphasis on the development and practice of private inter/intrapersonal sociologies. This requires self-critical revisitation of our basic definitions and theories in sociology in order to develop unified theoretical frameworks that meet the challenges of understanding and practicing the dialectics of public and private social processes in the 21st century. Needed are efforts to move beyond Newtonian definitions and theorizations of society and sociology and embrace new quantal sociological imaginations that creatively and integrally engage our macro and micro sociologies in favor of simultaneously world-historical and inter/intrapersonal exercises absent of rigid predeterministic frameworks. Public sociologies can not advance our theoretical and applied sociologies of what is or what can be in the absence of parallel efforts in invigorating our sociological imaginations of our private, inter/intrapersonal social landscapes. Although personal troubles can best be understood in relation to broader public issues, the latter themselves can most effectively be addressed and resolved through the actions of specific individual agencies who champion the need for broader socio-historical interpretation and change as deeply personal exercises in selfknowledge and self-liberation. As C. Wright Mills emphasized, what sparks the sociological imagination is the meeting of public and private sociologies. In closing, the paper highlights the research and pedagogical value of a sociology of self-knowledge that expands the sociological imagination in both directions in favor of intimately self-reflective and increasingly world-historical explorations.

Recommended Citation

Tamdgidi, Mohammad H. 2005/2006. “Private Sociologies and Burawoy’s Sociology Types: Reflections on Newtonian and Quantal Sociological Imaginations.” Pp. 179-196 in Student Scholarships of Learning (Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge: Volume IV, Issues 1&2, 2005/2006). Belmont, MA: Okcir Press (an imprint of Ahead Publishing House).

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